With only a couple days to go until the municipal election most people are going to the polls with the impression the Mayor runs the city. This is just plain wrong and we got to get it sorted.
I'm happy the media is covering something of the Municipal Election. The last few days Metro ran interviews with both Mayoral candidates.
But they're getting it all wrong. The Mayor, whoever it turns out to be, does not have the power to do ANY of the things the media talks about.
The mayor DOES NOT hire or fire anyone - no one reports to the mayor. They don't write or sign cheques. They don't set policy or even vote on policy except in the rarest circumstance. They don't even speak at council except under special conditions. They don't decide the budget, the business plan, or any element of how the city works. They sure don't get to decide the 'vision' or strategy for the city.
The word "responsibility" is not in the Mayor's job description because they are not responsible for any aspect of city government.
The mayor's job is completely ceremonial. They ride floats, cut ribbons, entertain visitors, send out notes to old people, and specifically their job description in the Municipal Government Act is clear... they are to chair council meetings, but if they are not available someone else can do it, it doesn't matter.
In Halifax we have a CAO-Council form of government. It's widely known as a "Weak Mayor" form of government and it has been the most widely used form of city government for over 50 years in North America. But since we get our ideas about government from movies, TV shows and comic books we read when we were kids we often misunderstand the Mayor's role... and the media sure isn't helping with the crazy articles. The mayor has no more power to effect change in any of these areas than you as an average citizen.
However, because of these massive misstatements of the role of mayor and our form of government the job has become more mischievous than any other in Nova Scotia.
It's our own fault. In Weak Mayor governments the mayor is normally selected by council to conduct ceremonial duties or elected at large but has NO executive duties.
In political science they call what we have created in our local mayor 'soft power' . In local politics it's bad. It's mischievous, distracting, overly political, open to influence of moneyed elites and special interests.
My position is that we should not be having these distracting mayoral elections. We should save the money and effort and do it as Manager - Council governments work best.
For the purpose of this election though, if you gotta vote, just vote for the one whose mischievous influence most suits your purposes. It's not democracy, but it's all we got.
Writing about life, citizenship, and Nova Scotia.